From the Blog

A trip into the Outback to take some photos

When it comes to the Outback, Dorothea Mackellar had it right: it’s a place of stark contrasts. The tourism phrase ‘Red Centre’, which has now entered common parlance, doesn’t quite do the Central Australian terrain justice—I came expecting a land of endless red rock but instead found greens, greys, browns, and yellows to complement the reds. Then there are all the different shades of red—only to be expected, perhaps—such that some are far more accurately described as …

More Korean Fun

I’m very aware of the fact that I haven’t written anything for the site for more than two weeks now. To those who have been on tenterhooks waiting for word of what I’ve been up to, I’m sorry. I think I was so occupied in Hong Kong and Singapore that I just didn’t get the time to sit down and finish off the description of my time in Korea. Also, I suspect that I didn’t really want to write about my time there because I didn’t want to dredge up the memories of a time which was at times quite boring (with relatively little to captivate a tourist in any one place) and at others unpleasant (dealing with difficult people).

One drawback, or possibly a benefit, of having delayed so long in writing this entry is that things aren’t so fresh in my mind, so I apologize …

Seoul Traveller

So, I’m in Korea now, and so am back on the great Eurasian continent. Not, of course, that I can do anything about it, since there is currently no way to get from here through North Korea to the ‘rest of the world’. In this entry you’ll read about my tour to the DMZ which surrounds the military demarcation line which continues to separate the Korean people.

A railway and a main road do run from Korea into North Korea (which is neither Democratic, of the People, nor strictly a Republic since it certainly doesn’t exist for the res publica, so I refuse to refer to it as the DPRK): however, the North Korean autocracy refused to allow traffic in, and so both road and railway stand blocked at the parallel of 38ºN. It would seem therefore that those Koreans who want to …

Tokyo

Just a brief note to say how funny it is for me to receive much of my university email as if I were in Oxford. I’ve been getting announcements of the latest happenings in my College’s JCR, as well as things from the Classics Faculty, the Chaplaincy, CathSoc and the Newman Society, the Pro-Life Society, and OUANZ. An email just arrived announcing a one-off lecture about healing cults in Ptolemaic Egypt to take place on 13th March at Corpus Christi. Sadly, I’ll be forced to miss that one—I don’t think I’ll come in from Hong Kong specially.

I’ve begun the last few entries by saying that ‘this one’s going to be a short one, chaps’. Well, I think this one’s going to be a short one, chaps (and chapesses). I was busy in Tokyo, and never bored, but in …

Osaka, Kōbe & Ise

There I was, standing in a chemical factory, minding my own business. Suddenly one of the drums burst into flames: it burned for a few seconds before the heat it was producing (which I could feel from over 30ft away) ignited the surrounding drums. Another few seconds went by, and then the whole room was awash with flame—the fire was lapping up the three other walls. Fine, I just needed to get out of the room while my path was still clear. The sprinklers did their thing (a little bit late, if you ask me) and deposited a fine mist of water over the room. This only had the effect of fanning the flames, and the fire was burning more fiercely than ever.

I stood there, transfixed by the sight of what was going on around me. The renewed vigour of the flames had begun to melt …

Nagasaki and Hiroshima

This entry is going to be a little different from those that precede it: I’m going to try to write it ‘thematically’ rather than chronologically. Alan de Botton, in his book The Art of Travel, talks about how if we were going to travel in a structured fashion, we would be traversing the world from one sight to the next in order to be able to make informed comparisons. I can’t remember the example he gives. If anyone can post it here, then that would be good. Let’s see how this goes.

To be honest, I hadn’t meant to go on an ‘atomic bomb tour’: things just turned out in a way that meant that I went first to Nagasaki (on pretty much the most south-western point of the four ‘main’ Japanese islands) and then to Hiroshima. My time in Hiroshima was …

Japan: Arrival, Takayama, Kyoto and Nara

This is going to be another long one, I’m afraid. I’m trying to improve my ‘writing for the Web’ style and produce shorter paragraphs, which are supposedly easier to speed read (especially on a screen) but I don’t know if I’ll succeed. I have, however, made it so that the entry fills a wider area once past the sidebar. I’ve also introduced the ‘Contents’ on the right-hand side so that you can jump directly into a part of the entry further down. I hope these developments help with the general readability of the travel log—as always I welcome your comments.

Arrival

Japan was the land of the setting sun as my flight from Taipei landed on Wednesday of last week. Sitting on the bus into Tokyo from Narita airport (a 90-minute journey), I was able to remark …

Taiwan—General Observations from my Experiences

Well, the weather didn’t clear up so I didn't get the opportunity to go to Beitou today (see my last post). As it was, I had a fairly good time sorting myself out—including the opportunity to buy a light waterproof—before heading off to Japan tomorrow. I've now sorted out accommodation for my first five nights (two in Tokyo before going to Nagoya and then on to Takayama—I'll be returning to Tokyo for a week before going on to Korea).

Anyway, by not going to Beitou, I was able to take the time to go to the observation deck in Taipei 101—thus proving false my suggestion that such a thing didn't exist. Even if I had had my camera with me, the photos wouldn't have shown much since the building was shrouded in cloud, which was moving pretty quickly and thus allowed …

Taichung, Sun Moon Lake and Tainan

Train Journey to Taichung

I’d bought my train ticket from Taipei to Taichung (Taizhong) on the Saturday before I was due to travel on the Monday. Taipei Main Station was packed, and there were long queues at all of the ticket counters—twelve or so—both for travel that day and for advance-purchase tickets. You can buy tickets online, but I couldn’t because the English version of the reservations site always failed with an incomprehensible error. Eventually I got my ticket, to travel on a train at 12.22 on Monday and went on my merry way rejoicing.

I turned up on Monday in very good time for the train—hours before it was due to leave because I wanted to get a handle on what was going on at the station, what information was available, etc. I went through the …

Notes on Taipei

I thought that I should write something to get this Travel Log off the ground, and also because I’ll be leaving the city tomorrow on the 12.22 express train to Taichung, Taiwan’s third-largest city, in the West of this fairly diminutive island (it covers 36,000 km²—England is more than 3.6 times its size at 130,395 km²). I've been here now for four days, having arrived on Thursday. Unfortunately my stay here has been marred by jet-lag: I thought I’d honed my skills at largely conquering the lag, but I had one sleepless night in Bangkok (I flew from London to Bangkok, and then on to Taipei) which set me back rather. I’ve also been recovering from my ailments at Christmas-time and so I haven’t been able to see as much of this city as perhaps I would have liked, …